Authorities have located dozens of people who were reported unaccounted for following severe flooding, heavy rainfall and power outages in Buchanan County, Virginia, officials said.
The whereabouts of 44 people were unknown Wednesday evening, the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office said. Shortly after noon Thursday, officials made contact with all of them, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said.
Officials previously stressed that the people reported missing were not necessarily in danger.
“They have been reported missing because their family members might not have been able to get in contact with them due to power outages in the area,” Emergency Management Department search and rescue specialist Billy Chrimes said Wednesday.
Sheriff John C. McClanahan said Thursday an area of concentration for search was along Big Branch Road, "as crews were not able to reach that area Wednesday due to the roads being impassable."
The state was battered with heavy rain and flash flooding Tuesday and Wednesday. There were no fatalities or injuries related to the flooding, the sheriff's office said.
The floodwaters were receding as of Thursday morning. Crews are working to remove debris and mud from roadways and to assess damage to residences.
The flooding was concentrated in the area of Dismal River Road, which includes Dismal River, Patterson, Hale Creek, Pilgrim’s Knob, Whitewood and Jewell Valley, the sheriff’s office said. The communities of Whitewood and Pilgrim’s Knob were primarily affected when Dismal Creek overflowed its banks.
More than 100 homes experienced some damage, including flooding, according to the Emergency Management Department.
A shelter has been set up at Twin Valley Middle School in Oakwood for residents who have been displaced.
J.R. Miller, who lives in North Carolina, said he was concerned for his family in Pilgrim's Knob after he heard about the weather that was forecast to hit the state.
Miller, 39, said he was on a video chat call with his aunt until she lost power and phone service.
She was OK and had minimal damage to her home, but the storm took everything Miller's father had except for his vehicle, he said.
“All his belongings are completely gone or ruined from the 7 inches of water that was in the house,” Miller said. “I will be going up to help him go through stuff and try to salvage what we can.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency Wednesday to assist with response and recovery efforts.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that another flood has impacted a community still recovering from last year’s flood,” Youngkin said in a statement. “In the wake of the devastation, I want Virginians in Buchanan County to know that we are making every resource available to help those impacted by this storm.”
Buchanan County also experienced severe flooding and landslides in August as a result of Hurricane Ida. This week’s flooding was less severe but more widespread, authorities said at the news conference Wednesday.